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Kendi, late 15th century, Ming dynasty. Porcelain with cobalt pigment under clear, colorless glaze. H: 17.0 W: 12.7 cm, Jingdezhen, China. Purchase F1976.40. Freer/Sackler © 2014 Smithsonian Institution

Blue-and-white was an important export item from the very beginning of its production, first to the Near East and Southeast Asia, then to Europe. The Chinese did not make many concessions to the tastes of these regions. One notable exception was the kendi, a drinking vessel made expressly for the Southeast Asian market. This example, with its floral design painted in a pale shade of blue, dates from the 15th century.